A cartoon in a leading Israeli daily last September - shortly after the end of the Gaza conflict in which 4500 rockets had been fired at Israel - depicted one person saying to his friend "are you thinking of getting away to Europe for the holidays?", and his friend responding, "no way, too dangerous."
The context at the time was the wave of anti-Israel demonstrations - dominated by Islamic and left-wing activists - triggered in European cities by the military conflict between Israel and Hamas. This included, in Britain, a campaign against supermarkets selling Kosher produce, and, in France, angry and violent demonstrations outside synagogues.
But the cartoon tapped into a deeper perception among Israelis, that Europe is a not a safe place for Jews. This perception was reinforced once again by the targeting of a Kosher supermarket by the Islamist cell that attacked Paris in the last few days, and the brutal murder of four innocent Jewish shoppers.
When Israelis look at these events in Europe, their view is inevitably coloured by the history of Jews there, and the fact that the idea of a modern Jewish state was created in Europe as an answer to anti-semitism.
Israeli school children, and many Jewish school children around the world, learn that Theodore Herzl was driven to establish Zionism as a political movement after reporting on the 1894 trial of Alfred Dreyfus - a French Jewish army captain who was falsely convicted of espionage - and seeing the Parisian crowds chant "Death to the Jews." About half of all Jewish-Israelis are of European origin, and most of those are from families who fled antisemitic persecution, whether in Russia, Poland, Germany or elsewhere.
'Israelis tend to view Europe as hopelessly weak or naive on Islamism'
In recent years, Israelis have frequently subscribed to a view, often exaggerated, that Europe is falling under the sway of its burgeoning Muslim demographic, creating a new danger to the Jewish communities. When it comes to the issue of Islamist extremist violence, Israelis tend to view Europe as hopelessly weak or naïve.
It is not surprising that following Friday's attack, the reflex reaction of Israeli Jews is the classic Zionist response: your place is here in the Jewish state. Indeed Foreign Minister Lieberman announced that Israel would increase staff to assist French Jews wanting to immigrate, whilst Prime Minister Netanyahu told French Jews: "Israel is your home."
Until recently, many Jews in Europe, whilst having a strong support and connection to Israel, would have firmly resisted the idea that their lives in Europe were untenable.
Indeed the perception of both these concerns - that it is not safe for Jews in Europe, and that Europe is being in some sense Islamised - are frequently overstated by Israeli observers. Israelis often miss how well-established and integrated Jews are in countries like France and Britain, how rich and diverse their Jewish life is, and the extent to which many political leaders take pride in their warm relations with Jewish communities and in fighting anti-semitism. For some in Israel there is a political interest in exaggerating the danger. The idea that Israel stands alone against a hateful world plays well for the more strident nationalism of the Israeli right.
But last weekend's events have reinforced an increasing trend for Jews in Europe to express doubts themselves about their future. This trend certainly appears to be strongest in France. Some 7000 French Jews moved to Israel in 2014, more than double the previous year, which was double the year before that. (For comparison, the yearly average for British Jews since 2000 has been about 500). Others are moving to Britain or the United States. Many more frequently visit Israel, have property there, and learn Hebrew.
Though the state of the French economy is also a factor, the spike in numbers was reportedly influenced by the 2012 attack on the Jewish school in Toulouse by an Islamist gunman who murdered three children and their teacher.
Anti-semitism has reared its head in France in various forms in the past year, from extreme and unique hostility towards Israel, to Jihadist armed attacks on innocent Jews, to the anti-establishment counter-culture of Dieudonne and his Quenelle.
Where were the 'Je Suis Juif' banners?
But whilst French Jews may be feeling the most heat, it is not only there where Jews feel something is changing.
In December, BBC Director Danny Cohen surprised an audience at a Jerusalem conference when he said that "I've never felt so uncomfortable being a Jew in the UK as I've felt in the last 12 months. And it's made me think about, you know, is it our long-term home, actually? Because you feel it. I've felt it in a way I've never felt before." This came after the Jewish Chronicle splashed a headline in August claiming, "63% question the future of Jews in the UK".
Millions of Europeans marched in the streets over the past few days under the banner 'Je suis Charlie'. Whilst France's elected leaders showed impressive solidarity with the Jewish community, far fewer members of the public embraced the slogan 'Je suis Juif'. Unless more do so, more European Jews may find themselves reluctantly questioning their future in Europe, and whether in fact, as Israeli leaders state: Israel is their home.
Article originally posted here.Suggest a correction